Monday, December 19, 2016

2016 the year of change (Ellijay, GA photographer)

Twenty Sixteen.  It was a great year for my business.  I was a full time full blown wedding photographer.  I didn't second shoot as much as I had in the past because I was so busy with my own work.  I formed relationships with amazing couples and followed along with others that began to expand their own families.  We moved our own family to a different state and I was faced with re-doing my business from square one.  I'm still faced with it but I'm excited for the new environment and people.  I also was rocked by a hard drive failure that cost me more than words can say both personally and through my business.  I want to post this as a year end wrap up.  It was such a great year for so many reasons, and I don't want the negative to overshadow everything good that DID happen.  I witnessed so many vows being said, and so many lives grow and change.  I stood by while parents said goodbye to their babies, and I watched babies become toddlers.  This, is my 2016.  Thank you for trusting me and working with me.  Thank you for being a client to a small business owner.  Thank you for valuing real photography.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

That time when I failed

We're all human.  We all make mistakes.  Those mistakes usually mean that something gets forgotten, or we pay a small fee, or someone gets upset.  Those mistakes don't often ruin people's lives.  I'm now one of those people that fail in such a terribly horrible way, that it ruins lives.  I know it.  I live it.  I breathe it.  I hyperventilate it.  I stay awake at night and re-think it.  I dream it. I cry through it.

I am a wedding photographer that failed to handle images appropriately.

I go home from these all day beautiful, once in a lifetime events, and I immediately transfer the images from their little slot in my card holder, to my laptop and onto a hard drive.  I import them to my editing program and quickly edit some images for my clients to share and love on.  I do it all right...except I didn't.  I didn't use a secondary hard drive to back up 3 weddings right away, and it failed.  My hard drive crashed.  It was a split second between fully operational as I edited away, and just stopped.  My heart sank.  I didn't sleep all night.  I got up at 6am and googled all of the computer repair places in town.  I drove straight to one and dropped it off.  He tried and didn't have the proper equipment.  I picked it up and brought it to a recovery specialist down the road.  I signed documents stating how much I would pay for recovered images.  I stalked my phone and kept it on me for 24 hrs straight awaiting his call.  I prayed, and cried, and drank, and cried again.  When he said that I needed to send it to the manufacturer I cried again.  I got dizzy and couldn't breathe.  I knew what this meant.  I picked it up quickly and I filed a request with the manf.  They provided me with a shipping label for ground UPS transport.  I sent it overnight with a large amount of insurance instead.  I stalked the UPS page to ensure delivery and called the company to ask what was next and to make sure they received it.  They did.       And now I wait.  I cry and get nervous and dizzy and nauseous and sick every other hour.  I can't tell these amazing people what has happened.  I don't want to.  I would rather do anything than tell them.

I write these things not to get sympathy, or make these people less angry with me, but to say that you can not possibly hate me more than I HATE ME.  I was careless and made a mistake.  I know that I couldn't have known that it would crash and be un-recoverable.  I know that these things happen.  Technology is such a fleeting thing.  One device holds all of our memories and information, and in a second it could be gone.  But this still shouldn't have happened, and I am forever eternally sorry.  My business will change, my life will change, my everything changes.

The manufacturer still has my hard drive, and I could get the email any day that they have recovered my hard drive, and everything is fine, with a link to download the files.  I could also get an email that says that the data has been scratched into dust and is entirely un-recoverable.  Until I hear the word, I know that I won't sleep, I won't stop losing weight, I won't experience any true joy.  I will get dizzy and need to collapse.  I'm ok with that.  I know that these brides will do the same thing if they don't have their images.  If they don't get to re-live the moment that dad gave her away, or her first dance, or that crazy husband that put cake in her face.  I'm not prepared to do this to somebody, to 3 somebodies.  But I might have to.

After three weeks of waiting I have my answer.  I was grocery shopping with all of my kids when I got in the car and noticed a missed phone call.  I checked my voicemail and the gentleman introduced himself as the customer care rep from seagate.  He over simplistically states that unfortunately my hard drive recovery was a failure.  A Failure.      FAILURE.  I was already on the road when I heard the words.  I didn't even need to hear the rest of the message.  I hung up and immediately start to hyperventilate.  My vision goes blurry and I'm in a tunnel of hell.  My kids don't understand what's wrong.  I'm terrified for them in the car with me, hurdling through space that has somehow frozen in time.  By the time I get home I'm completely numb.  It's hard to explain how it feels.  I want to eat everything, and nothing.  I want to throw up and go sleep.  I want to cry and scream.

The next 5 hours I sat at my computer trying to salvage any image that I could.  Thumbnails, Facebook posts, anything.  I slept for a few hours and then went back to it again.  I imagine I'll stay this way until every 2016 bride of mine has their images in hand and safely away from my vacuum of crappy circumstances.

Another week later.  One bride knows, the other two are coming.  I decided to get a second opinion on the hard drive and so I sent it to one of the most expensive recovery businesses there is.  They do good work.  I got the call today.  My drive is indeed so badly damaged that there is not even hope of a partial recovery.  How does this happen to a hard drive that I didn't even drop.  I did absolutely nothing to it.  So the end of my saga is here and it's over.  Hope is lost.  Memories are gone.  I realized last week that many of my most recent children's photos were also on that drive.  I mourn the loss of my kid's memories but not nearly as much as I mourn the loss of my bride's wedding days.  Editing what I do have left is so bitter sweet.  I'm glad that I can deliver some version of the memories to my clients, but I am so sad that these images will never become large canvases on a wall.  They'll always carry a 'yeah, but...' with them for these couples.

Obviously this event changes my business.  Those not directly affected by this that are reading it might wonder why I am making it public.  Why am I telling this to the world?  I want to be entirely transparent on this subject.  I can't hide it behind my back and pretend like it didn't happen.  I won't.  This business isn't just a business to me, I'm too personally invested and devastated by it.  I want any future clients that I may have to know what happened, and while I made a mistake, a big one, I did absolutely everything in my power to make it right.  This will never happen to me again.  NEVER.  My hard drives are backed up with backups.  I shoot on two memory cards every time I shoot anything.  I don't trust technology at all, and that's how it unfortunately has to be.  Many of us don't back up our phones, our computers, our entire lives can disappear just like that.  So a word to the wise, back up your precious memories.  If you have CDs with images on them, copy them to something that can't be scratched.  If you have USBs, copy them to a server online.  If you have hard drives, copy them.

I am eternally sorry for what happened, and I'll probably never be able to comfortably move past it.  It's going to haunt me, and I hope that I am able to continue to capture life and present it to clients.  But now they know.  They know what happened this past 2 months.  It's out there.  It is what it is.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Baby Owen (Ellijay family photographer)

My littlest baby, is no longer a baby.  We filled out the forms, and signed the documents, paid the fees and are sending him to pre-k.  It's a little heart breaking.  Actually, it's soul crushing.  those tiny little hands that I held 4 years ago are much bigger now.  They play with legos and color pages.  The tiny fingers hold big boy cups and utensils.  He sleeps in a big bed and no longer by my side. (well, ok, maybe sometimes he snuggles)  The same deep blue eyes still look at me though.  They cry out for mommy when he's scared or needs more juice.  They smile and say 'you're my mommy.'  This little boy's umbilical cord will never be fully cut, and I'm ok with that, except it's about to be stretched REALLY far three times a week.  Four hours at a time. Five and a half miles away.

But not today.  Today isn't his first day yet, and we are soaking up our last days with just the two of us at home.  We watch shows snuggled on the couch, and share bags of chips.  We go to Chik fil A and slide and play.  He drinks my coffee drinks from Starbucks and begs for milkshakes.  We also explore the downtown area of our new home, and look at all of the old antiques and he begs me for just one more toy car.  So today I documented our walk.  This hammy little boy is a mess, but he's my mess.  He's one part his daddy, one part his mommy, and one million parts boy.  Happy (early) 4th Birthday my Owen-a.  My beebee.  My creek monkey.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Wedding Tips Pt.2 - Flowers ( ellijay, GA wedding photographer )

So you've selected your date, and venue, and even the groom.  ;) Now you have to start planning the details and the what the theme, colors, and overall feel of your wedding will be.  Flowers are one thing that can go such a long way in creating a luxurious atmosphere.  But how do you justify hundreds or thousands of dollars on something that will fade away and die so quickly.  So many brides immediately go to fake flowers across the board, saving money to spend it in other more important ways.  While I've been impressed by the look and quality of many fake flower bouquets throughout my wedding photography days, I always feel like brides can be better served and informed with how to spend money where it matters, and save in others.  So I'm going to tell you a few secrets.  

Make your bridal bouquet beautiful.  Get what you've always envisioned.  Scour bridal magazines and Pinterest, and invest a few hundred in what you really want.  It is YOUR day after all.

 Your flowers should be an accessory to make you feel gorgeous and amazing.  They should bring a pop of color to your amazing white gown.  Invest accordingly.  As for the bridesmaids; their bouquets are important as well, but not nearly as much as yours, so this is an area where pennies can be pinched.  If you opt for all real flowers, get less expensive florals.  Get similar or complimentary colors, but they don't need the succulents or deep colored roses that may be in yours.  A bouquet made of carnations or babies breath with little pops of wild flowers would work just as well for the bridesmaids.  This specific bride chose stalks of lavender for her girls and it was absolutely beautiful!

 Another popular option for bouquets is to go against the grain entirely and utilize jewels and brooches.  This bride chose to use heirloom pieces that she already had so it was incredibly affordable.  For some this may be a more expensive option, but it is something that can last forever and carry so much meaning.
While large flowing bouquets do seem to be the 'trend' right now, they are often not an option for many brides.  Keep in mind that well placed and well done small bouquets make just as much of an impact.  This intimate destination wedding with mountain charm didn't call for anything huge or ornate but they worked perfectly with the dresses and the venue.

When it comes to decorating your venue, if blanketing the table in real flowers isn't in the budget, don't be afraid to go fake here.  The decorations on your table are simply there for decoration and adding visual interest to the room.  They won't be up front and center in hundreds of photos.  Most receptions are dimly lit and decor details can go un-noticed by many guests.  Buying fake flowers for centerpieces and aisle runners is an excellent way to save your cash for that awesome dress, or amazing wedding photographer instead.  ;)

 Something else to consider in your bouquet choice is to use your wedding colors.  While white flowers appear to look amazing in that shop window or catalog, they often fade into nothing against an all white dress.  Bridesmaids can carry that white tone into your ceremony with their flowers, keep your own bright and vibrant! If you do adore that white on white look, break up the white with pale pink or bright greenery!

And lastly, your photographer will love you more if you get a gorgeous bouquet.  Remember, just about every photo of you and your groom, includes that bouquet.  You'll carry it around all day, and it will enhance the colors and feel of every image taken that day.  Remember that and you'll feel good about any money spent on your own flowers.

(plus I can adorn my bag in down times and take awesome leather and flower photos, but that's just me.)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Mr. & Mrs. B ( Southern Indiana Wedding Photographer )

This wedding took place in a small church in a small town in Indiana.  The reception was in an old renovated city building in another small town.  I do so love the small town weddings that are fully loaded with details, dripping with beautiful vibrant wild flowers, and include two laid back relaxed people saying yes to forever.  I'll let the photos do the rest of the talking now...